The Irish Traditional Music Archive / Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann was founded 25 years ago today, on 29 July 1987, at a meeting in the Arts Council in Dublin.
Since that time it has grown from a concept without holdings, staff or premises to become the largest collection in existence of the materials of Irish traditional music – sound recordings, books, sheet music, ballad sheets, serials, theses, videos, photographs, manuscripts, programmes, posters, flyers, born-digital material, interactive digital music files, etc. – all of which is freely available for open reference access by the general public. The Archive is operated by a permanent staff of 10 and a number of contract and voluntary staff, and its operations are overseen by a voluntary rotating Board of 12. The collection has been built up by an extensive programme of field-collection, copying and digitisation, and by purchase and donation. It is housed in a Georgian heritage building at 73 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, which has been restored for the Archive by the Office of Public Works.
The Archive also now holds the largest collection of information on Irish traditional music, digitally classified, catalogued and indexed on computer databases, and this also is fully accessible in the Archive’s premises. For the past five years this information has also increasingly been made available world-wide on the Internet through the ITMA Online Catalogue, and a huge anniversary tranche of catalogue information has been added to it today (see below).
In recent years the Archive has also put a considerable emphasis on the virtual dissemination of its digitised materials internationally through its website www.itma.ie
. This Internet publishing has been directed towards people throughout Ireland, to the Irish diaspora, and to the many people not of Irish descent who are interested in this music. It has added greatly to the Archive’s other world-wide cultural outreach activities: book and audiovisual publications, exhibitions, partnership publications, and especially its television broadcasting cooperation with RTÉ and TG4 on the series Come West along the Road
since 1994 and Siar an Bóthar
For its twenty-fifth anniversary year 2012–2013, the Archive has planned a rolling programme of publications, projects and events. The first of these is launched today to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of ITMA:
750,000+ Content Items
These core holdings are its Irish traditional commercial sound recordings, and its printed song collections, instrumental music collections, dance collections and instrumental tutors.
This huge extra body of online information constitutes another unique international resource and public service in Irish traditional music provided by ITMA. Over the course of the next year Content information will be added online for other categories of its holdings, commercial and non-commercial. With today’s substantial addition, the ITMA online catalogue now contains more than 750,000 content items of data searchable here.
The work of the Irish Traditional Music Archive is made possible by the year-on-year support of its main funders An Chomhairle Ealaíon / The Arts Council in Dublin and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in Belfast, by project funders such as the Heritage Council and the Temple Bar Cultural Trust, by the in-kind support of the Office of Public Works, and by individual donors of material, information and money, especially through its support group Friends of the Archive.
For the many other aspects of the Archive’s history, development and services to date visit www.itma.ie